While Viswanathan Anand, the former world champion, has been qualifying for a revenge match for the world title, Magnus Carlsen, the new champion, has been awaiting the identity of his challenger. Now that Carlsen knows that he will have to face Anand once again, the time has come to do some serious preparation and get in some practice against the rest of the world’s elite. I believe that the rejuvenated Anand will pose a considerably greater danger than when he succumbed so feebly in Chennai last year, looking like a pale imitation of himself.
Carlsen has been amusing himself against strong but comparatively lightweight opposition, but he must now switch to a higher gear. This week’s game is typical of the watching brief which the champion has adopted while waiting to see who would emerge as qualifier from Khanty-Mansisk.
Carlsen-Georgiev: Norwegian Team Championship 2014, Ruy Lopez
1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 a6 4 Ba4 Nf6 5 0-0 b5 6 Bb3 Bb7 7 d3 Bc5 A standard way for Black to defend against the Ruy Lopez in top class contemporary chess. 8 c3 0-0 9 a4 d5 10 axb5 axb5 11 Rxa8 Bxa8 12 exd5 Nxd5 13 Re1 Carlsen tries to improve on previous play which had seen 13 d4 exd4 14 cxd4 Be7. 13 … b4 14 Qc2 f6 15 Nbd2 Kh8 16 Ne4 Be7 17 h3 This is too slow. The immediate 17 d4 is good for White. 17 … Na5 18 Ba2 (see diagram 1) 18 … b3 An overoptimistic pawn sacrifice which might have worked against a lesser light than Carlsen. Instead the simple and solid 18 … c5 leaves Black with a perfectly playable position. 19 Bxb3 Nxb3 20 Qxb3 Nb6 21 d4 Black has some compensation for the missing pawn in the form of his two bishops, but this type of situation, with a solid extra pawn, is meat and drink to Carlsen. 21 … f5 22 Nc5 e4 23 Ne5 Bd5 24 Qd1 Bd6 25 Bf4 Nc4 26 b4 g5 27 Bh2 f4 (see diagram 2) Black’s attempt to complicate is soon revealed as utter desperation, since White wins a second pawn for no compensation whatsoever. 28 Nxc4 Bxc5 29 Nd2 Bd6 30 Nxe4 Qe7 31 Nxd6 Qxd6 32 Re5 h6 33 h4 gxh4 34 Qh5 c6 35 f3 Qf6 36 b5 Ra8 37 Re8+ Rxe8 38 Qxe8+ Kh7 39 Qd7+ Kh8 40 b6 Black resigns
Jesse Norman MP visited Holmer School last month to challenge the best players. He wrote: ‘Moving at breakneck speed, having been given a bit over an hour for a 14-game simul, final scores were won 12, drew 2. The one thing I noticed was a strange predilection for Alekhine’s Defence!’
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